#Powerwives is a bi-monthly column where we feature women who inspire us. Marital status is completely irrelevant. The title is inspired by our founders November 2013 Toronto Life cover story.
Brandie Weikle is the editor-in-chief of parenting mag Canadian Family and mom of two boys, ages 10 and 6. A transplanted westerner raised in Alberta and B.C., she’s been specializing in parenting topics for 14 years, with stints at Today’s Parent, Canadian Family, Toronto Star and House & Home before returning to Canadian Family as editor in 2013. Brandie is passionate about active living, loves to cook and speaks openly about positive co-parenting after separation/divorce.
Name: Brandie Weikle
Title: Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Family magazine
Social media handles: @bweikle
Who is in your tribe? (family members, friends, partners) My two lovely sons, my mom, sister and step-father in Vancouver and the boys’ father, who lives next door and is still a trusted friend. I’m also super blessed to have a wonderful group of friends, the kind of people who drop what they’re doing when you have an emergency and celebrate your triumphs. I’m single (and naturally getting a real kick out of the #powerwife label), so it sure helps to have a strong network of people I can lean on.
What does a typical day look like for you? Wake around 6:30, make elaborate breakfast (we are huge fans of breakfast in my house), kiss kids goodbye and head to the office. Email, meetings, editing, more meetings, more email, hopefully more editing and writing then home to the boys if it’s one of my nights with them. If it’s not, I work a little later, hit the gym, meet someone for dinner or drinks or attend industry events. These days I’m completing the #5X50challenge, a Scottish initiative that aims to get participants to do a 5k run, bike or equivalent every day for 50 days. So if I haven’t made it to the gym I’m ending a lot of days on a stationary bike after the kids have gone to bed.
What’s in your clutch? My iPhone, a small Moleskine notebook, pens, about five different lipsticks (ridiculous!), cards, cash. As the kids get older I seem less likely to have Lego guys and granola bars with me at all times.
Five things you can’t live without? Hugs from my sons, Cream of Earl Gray from David’s Tea, pencil skirts, ski socks and books.
Who is your hero? My mom. At age 61 she started a new healthy baked goods business (@WiseBitesInc on Twitter) because it’s something she believes in. She raised me to not to limit myself when setting goals and continues to inspire me every day.
What are you reading? Last night I finished Schroder by Amity Gage, a novel about a man born in East Berlin but living in Boston who invents a new identity when he goes off to summer camp as a boy. I like to have fiction and non-fiction books on the go at the same time. I’m also reading The Sports Gene by David Epstein.
How did you get your start? I went to journalism school at Carleton University in Ottawa and then returned to Victoria, where at first I eeked out a living freelancing for various small papers and magazines, before landing jobs at progressively bigger papers in Vancouver, including the Vancouver Province. Within a year of moving to Toronto in 1999, I convinced someone in HR at Rogers to let me apply for an assistant editor job at Today’s Parent, even though they had a policy at the time of making you stick with the trade pub you were hired on for a minimum of two years. That set me on a path to a career mostly in parenting journalism.
Tell us about a time you were challenged and you learned a lesson. Wow. There are so many to choose from! Each of us experiences tough periods personally and professionally, and all of mine have been really great growth opportunities, however painful at the time. It probably won’t come as a surprise that when my father died a month after my separation, that was pretty tough. However, I learned that you can find yourself living a life you don’t recognize for a while, but then move forward a stronger and more resilient person. I’m a huge believer in the importance of being able to update your fairytale. And, man, can I ever handle life’s ups and downs better now at age 40 than I could at 30.
What inspires you? I get inspired by trying new things. A little more than a year ago I decided to complete a winter sports event called The Pentathlon des Neiges in Quebec City, a 26k race involving biking, running, cross-country skiing, skating and snowshoeing. In order to do this I took up cross-country skiing (skate style), snowshoeing and speed skating (done slowly). It was so much work to train for this race, but the event became my 40th birthday celebration; 14 of us took over a small chateau for the weekend. When my boys and mom ran along side me the last few metres, my friends cheering loudly at the finish line, I was more convinced than ever about the benefit of going outside one’s comfort zone and trying new things at any age. I also love reading about and talking to people who run their own businesses, particularly those who leave behind the security of their previous careers to try something with more risk but more also more meaning. I may not be an entrepreneur myself, but I really think we should all bring a little of that kind of outlook to our careers and to our lives in general.
What are you excited about right now? I’m excited to help more parents find a positive way forward after separation and divorce, since it’s so crucial to everyone’s happiness not to let acrimony define family life just because the marriage is no longer intact. I’m looking at ways to spread that message further.
How do you unwind? I find that I need to get regular exercise and fresh air in order to feel good. I spend winter weekends skiing and in summer try to run, bike, garden and just generally be outside as much as possible. But I’m probably my most relaxed on Saturday mornings, when, after having an extra long breakfast with the kids, I spend some time sipping tea and reading the paper or flipping through cookbooks. At night I have to read a book in order to fall asleep.
Most interesting people to follow on social media? It’s so hard to choose just a few! I’m going to employ a bit of nepotism here and pick one female and one male friend. BFF @MaryVallis, the deputy city editor at the Star, has an uncanny ability to lead on both the big news story of the day and the quirky news story of the day. And I find myself clicking through on almost every link shared by @PeterMacLeod, principal of @MassLBP and co-founder of @Wagemark, organizations concerned, respectively, with engaging citizens in public policy and addressing income disparity. He also simply has good taste in reading material.
Personal mantra: Be grateful. Stretch yourself. See the glass as half full. When you’re overloaded, phone a friend.
Advice for women trying to get to where you are: Advocate for yourself. We’re not always encouraged growing up to ask clearly for the opportunities we need to meet our goals. And be willing to try new things and go new places to get experience. When I was starting out I wrote more than one story about pig manure while freelancing for anyone who would have me (I wish I were making that up).